"Olszowski packed a bag, drove out to rural areas (all of them within an hour's drive of her apartment), snapped photographs of what she saw. Then she found people from all walks of life, and talked to them about their lives. In the book, the photos -- all of them in stark black-and-white -- are juxtaposed with snippets of interviews with farmers, suburban homeowners, mayors, and, near the end, experts in regional planning.
"It was difficult at first," she said. "A lot of people were confused about what I was trying to do. People think when you start talking about sprawl that you have something to profess, like some legislation."
But eventually she earned the trust of the 12 characters that make up her narrative. Olszowski said she wasn't looking to write a typical book about the technical details of urban sprawl -- those books already exist, she said, and the average person just doesn't read them. Her plan was to create something more human, something that captured the motions and emotions of daily life."